Tonight's NL Wild Card Game Picks & Odds: Giants vs. Pirates

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 12:49 PM GMT

This MLB handicapper shares his professional betting advice for tonight's MLB National League Wild Card game between the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Find out which team he picks.

San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
This bureau entered the playoff season on a September Fall Ball run of 15-7 (68%) up 27% of bankroll. That record took a hit last night when Kansas City rallied to win 9-8 in 12 IP.  The Royals showed their resiliency after trailing 3 times in the game against an Oakland team that was the clear favorite to win the World Series two short months ago. So much for experience (Oakland) surviving against the virginity that was Kansas City. 

In the NL Wild Card game, a similar comparison could be drawn. This is a San Francisco team that has two titles to their credit in the last 4 seasons.  A closer look at recent history shows that San Francisco was an underachieving 76-86 last year. Although the 88-74 mark this season matches that of the Pirates, more was expected after the fast early start for San Francisco. 

For Pittsburgh, it has been a story of a team on the rise. A late season run in 2013 lifted the Bucs to a 94-68 record, their first winning season in 20 years.  Building on that playoff experience, Pittsburgh again challenged St. Louis for division supremacy this season. Although they again found themselves 2 games behind the Cards at years end and with a record 6 games worse at 88-74, the Pirates did improve their home field record to 51-30.  In a season where MLB home teams won just 53% of the games, that home field record is tied with St. Louis and Washington for the best in the National League.  It trails only the LA Angels for the best home mark in baseball. Considering the Pirates were 37-44 away for the season and the raucous atmosphere that will welcome them to a beautiful evening on the banks of the Allegheny, the advantage of the home field could be an important aspect in this game. 

Even more intriguing is the pitching matchup in this game. San Fran veteran, Bumgarner, reversed his history of being better home than road.  In fact, 18 road starts over 125 2/3 IP saw Bumgarner compile a 2.22 ERA and 0.98 WHIP on the road.  Bumgarner ended the season on a solid run.  Prior to his last start, the Giants won 6 consecutive Bumgarner starts.  In those outings, Bumgarner worked 41 IP, allowing 9 runs on only 33 hits with a 47/6 KBB.  But, his most recent work was less promising.  In 7 1/3 IP of a 4-2 loss to the LA Dodgers, Bumgarner allowed all 4 runs.  In his lone start against Pittsburgh this season, Bumgarner was touched for 5 runs in just 4 IP. 

The story of Volquez is far dichotomous.  The right hander reached the nadir of his discontent when his ERA plummeted to 6.01 with San Diego last year.  He was reclaimed by the Pirates in the off season and molded into the greatest pitching comeback story of the year.  In his last 11 starts of the season, Volquez went 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA.  This includes his final 2 starts of the season in which he did not allow an earned run in 14 IP.  In that span, he allowed just 7 hits and posted a 16/4 KBB.  For the season from this mound, Volquez had a solid 3.06 ERA

Hard to discount the San Francisco pedigree which sees many players from their championship teams still on the roster.  But the Pirates are clearly a team on the rise, have the benefit of their own playoff experience of last year, and a righteous home field advantage in the form of a PNC Park that will be rocking this evening.  As pointed out in the above paragraph, there is evidence to convince this bureau in placing the MLB pick edge on the mound with the red hot Volquez making the start.

Free MLB Picks: Pittsburgh with Volquez pitching at Bodog

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